‘I want people to know that they are not alone’

Sophomore reflects on her mental health journey during Suicide Prevention Month

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Contributed by Katie Wells

Sophomore Katie Wells says that her mom Susan Decamp supported her when her mental health was at an all time low. She says she’s extremely grateful for her.

The summer before seventh grade, everything changed for freshman Katie Wells. She began to struggle with her mental health because of her hard transition to middle school. 

 Due to this, Wells says that she has a deeper connection to mental health awareness and suicide prevention than most, considering what she has been through when it comes to her mental health journey. 

“I want people to know that they are not alone and they never will be,” Wells said.

Leading up to that time, Wells says she felt pretty content. Her home life was healthy and she was academically succeeding. She couldn’t really point to the cause of her uprising unhappiness.

“But then one day, everything felt off,” Wells said. 

Wells began self-harming and developed unhealthy coping strategies. She even had attempted to end her own life. One day, her parents found her crying in her room and she eventually told them everything going on in her head. They listened to her and offered to take her to therapy. Wells says that therapy really helped her.  She was on and off a lot of different medications because she and her parents were trying to find the best one.

By the time 8th grade rolled around, Wells began to worry about what others would think about this time in her life.

 “I was terrified of people finding out I had attempted or even had thought about that because people would’ve thought I was crazy,” Wells said. 

She began to open up to a friend whom she trusted. Unfortunately, her friend began to tell others. Although she was upset she was thankful to realize that no one she cared about treated her differently because of what she had gone through. 

While attending SMS, Wells slowly confided in certain teachers about what had been going on. Orchestra teacher Thomas Wright and English teacher Daniel Bailey were the main teachers she would talk to about her mental health. Bailey believes that everyone has their own struggles, therefore he tried to listen to Wells with understanding.

“I always tried to respond with grace and empathy,” Bailey said.

Wells’ orchestra teacher Thomas Wright expresses his concern for how important mental health is with his students. Wright believes that mental health should always come first.

 “I know if Katie is in a good place mentally that she will be in my class for a long time,” Wright said. “And that is what I want.” 

Wells says that the support stemming from her family, teachers and friends is what has ultimately kept her going. 

“I am really grateful for what I have,” Wells said.

Wright explains that when Katie would confided in him for help he would always express his concern for her as a person.  

“It was not ‘Katie, I’m concerned about you being a poor violin player,’” Wright said “It was ‘Katie, I want you to be a healthy person.’ It was about getting to a better mental state where you are mentally and emotionally”.

Currently, Wells considers herself to be in a much better place mentally and desires to help others if they are going through the same thing. She is in the mental health awareness club, also known as “Bring Change to Mind” here at SHS. She has a passion for suicide prevention and telling her story in hopes that others can benefit from it.

“Suicide is not a topic that is off the table,” Wells said. “It is something we should talk about so we can make others aware and know that there is stuff we can do to help them and so we can hopefully try to prevent suicide.”

Wells says that right now in the middle of a pandemic is a time when everyone is struggling. She believes that it’s vital to have a safe space to express feelings, especially during this time. One misconception Wells notices frequently is if someone attempts to commit suicide, then everyone thinks they want to die, when they are usually just so tired of being unhappy. 

“They really just want their pain and suffering to end,” Wells said.

According to  Bailey, there needs to be more awareness on seeing the signs. 

“Speaking of what Katie has been through. It would be hard for a bystander or even a teacher to know that she is really hurting inside,” Bailey said.

Something that Wells is trying to do is to open up and tell her story as much as possible. 

“I hate that there is any kind of stigma for it,” Wells said. “And I feel like we should try to get rid of that as much as possible because it is something that we should not be afraid to talk about.” 

Wells says that Suicide Prevention Month is extremely important. 

“It is a month to recognize the people who have fought so hard to still be here,” Wells said.